Council urges Province to quickly implement a program to help forestry contractors

COUNCIL CHAMBERS5

PICTOU, NS - The Municipality of Pictou County is asking the province to quickly implement a program that will help forestry contractors who need assistance with moving equipment for work in other markets.

District 7 Coun. David Parker put a motion forward during Monday’s Council Meeting stating that due to the apparent closure of Northern Pulp, forestry contractors have been deprived of their employment and income. He said most of these contractors have loans and other financial obligations to pay for their equipment and now face default of their obligations and bankruptcy.

“Therefore, be it resolved by the Municipal Council for the Municipality of the County of Pictou that Council request that the Province of Nova Scotia immediately implement a program to move said equipment to areas within Canada where a fair market exists,” states the resolution.

After some debate, the motion was passed and will be sent directly to Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil with copies to the transition team and local MLAs. The forestry transition team was formed by the province to come up with ways to support the forestry workers and businesses related to the industry.

Coun. Parker also gave notice that he will be putting similar resolutions forward in regards to assistance for silviculture workers and truckers.

“This has been very difficult for everyone in the County for a long time,” said Warden Robert Parker. “Most regrettable is the way it had to happen. To find out a few days before Christmas that your livelihood is at stake is very difficult timing. The Premier said it had to be that way because of the thing with the regulator body and if that was the case, so be it, but it was still difficult for many families that have an uncertain future in front of them. It is going to be very difficult for a long time here and we are hoping this transition team will come up with something and it will help, but we are talking about trucks here and you don’t turn them around on a dime and you don’t turn an industry around on a dime either.”

Warden Parker said he doesn’t want forestry contractors to leave the area, but he understands they also don’t have time to sit back and wait to see if things will work out in the long run.

“Maybe the program they come up with isn’t to move equipment but help them with those two or three payments in the next few months,” he said. “As long as they come up with something to help these people. Not only do these people go broke, but you also get broken families, you get all kinds of problems. We need to at least show people in the industry that we are doing what we can to help them.”

Council was also told the Pictou County Regional Enterprise Network Chair Sarah MacIntosh-Wiseman will be in discussions with the transition team to determine what role REN can play, but first, it must hear what lead the province is taking before it can help to fill in the gaps. Pictou County REN is funded by the six local municipalities as well as Pictou Landing First Nations and is considered the lead agency for economic development in the County.

“Shortly after the province made the announcement regarding the Boat Harbour Act, I met with Sarah knowing that she will be required to play a key role,” said Warden Parker. “We set up REN to be a leader and I think the provincial government will be the concentration point and working with this County will be through REN. It is a big project for them and still in the early stages, but she is willing to take it on.”

Council also passed a resolution that asks for someone from Pictou County to be appointed to the provincial transition team since there are no members from the area currently part of the group.